Cape Town
Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government
Mandela Medical School
Mara River
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Medical
South Africa
Steve Biko
University of Cape Town
University of Natal Medical
World Bank

Our rich heritage offers key lessons on how to be good stewards of nature

2000: Became one of the four managing directors of the World Bank — the first South African to hold this position — serving for four years.

1994: Was a visiting scholar at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US.

She also holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree in administration from the University of South Africa as well as diplomas in tropical health and hygiene and public health from the University of the Witwatersrand; and a PhD in social anthropology from the University of Cape Town.

Dr Ramphele received her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Natal Medical (now the Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Medical School).

She was an anti-apartheid activist and was one of the founders of the Black Consciousness Movement, along with Steve Biko.

Africa’s future is in the hands of all its citizens. We need to learn the lessons of losses that have defined our past, and work together to heal the wounds that were inflicted on our dignity by openly acknowledging them and the impact they have on us as we attempt to transform our societies.

Our ancestors taught us to converse among ourselves to share losses, mourn the dead and celebrate successes and new life. We need to return to the rich heritage of story-telling that connected past, present and future generations to the natural environment we reside in.

African culture is infused with imageries of the inter-connectedness of the human race, humans and nature, as well as time and space. We need to harvest these rich cultural elements so we can reweave the beautiful tapestry of languages and cultures that define our continent and its people.

You were vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town. If you look at African studies, do you think enough has been done to make the connections with our culture, our land, our wildlife and the way we organised and built our lives around them over the centuries?

This was a wake up call to all Africans that we are squandering the opportunity given to us by our rich natural heritage. It is not too late for us to come together as a continent and agree to a covenant with our ancestors, present generations and those yet to be born.

Outside my country, the Masai Mara in Kenya/Tanzania is simply the best. Watching the crossing of the mass of animals of the Mara River is a spiritual experience. We dare not fail to preserve this for posterity.

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